As we reported earlier this week, Katie Thurston and Blake Moynes have broken up after just three months of dating.
Though Katie and Blake were still happily engaged (or seemed to be) when they appeared on the After the Final Rose special back in August, their split didn't come as much of a surprise to Bachelorette fans.
Both Greg Grippo and Michael Allio took themselves out of the running at a late stage in the competition.
On top of that, Katie's breakup with Andrew Spencer was one of the most emotional in the history of the franchise.
All of this left viewers with the impression that Katie had settled for Blake, or at least that her heart was being pulled in many different directions at the moment of his proposal.
But despite the conflicted emotions that Katie might have been experiencing when Blake popped the question, it seems her feelings for her exes did not factor into the end of her engagement.
Rather, the main obstacle to the relationship was a complication that many Bachelor/Bachelorette couples have endured, and one that the show has chosen not to factor into its casting decisions.
On Monday, the couple issued a joint statement announcing their split:
“It is with mutual love and respect that we have decided to go our separate ways," Thurston and Moynes both wrote on Instagram.
"We are so grateful for the moments we shared together and the entire journey that has unfolded this year, but we ultimately have concluded that we are not compatible as life partners," the statement continued.
"It is the most caring choice for both of us to move forward independently," the couple added.
"We ask for kindness and privacy as we both navigate this transition."
Obviously, Katie and Blake didn't go into detail with regard to the exact causes of their split, but insiders say a problem that the couple anticipated from the start eventually led to their split.
“They just couldn’t make the long-distance [relationship] work,” the insider said.
“Katie really missed Blake once he left and they would get into little arguments, but at the end of the day, Katie wished he would be with her more.”
Blake is a Canadian citizen, and his job as a wildlife manager takes him all over the world, including a recent trip to Africa.
The source says Katie was “super supportive” of Blake’s work, but the distance “was too difficult for her to deal with.”
Spending so little time together would put a strain on any relationship, and Blake and Katie's romance was especially vulnerable, having started just a few months ago under high-stress circumstances.
Just days before the couple went public with their breakup, Katie spoke with Us Weekly that and admitted that the distance had put a significant strain on their relationship.
“We’re figuring it out,” Thurston said on October 22.
“We don’t know. This is very new to us still. I’m just focusing on myself, he’s focusing on him, and if we work doing that, great.”
While other Bachelor/Bachelorette couples have managed to navigate the difficult waters of long-distance relationships, Katie and Blake's difficulties raise some interesting questions.
Going forward, should the show factor geography into its casting process?
Do contestants who live closer to the lead have an unfair advantage over those who hail from further away?
In recent years, couples who met on the show have struggled to make it work once the cameras stopped rolling.
And the lack of marriages means that the stakes are lower, which could be a factor in the franchise's declining ratings.
Might the answer be found in regional editions of the competition?
It's something that producers might want to consider as they continue retooling the once-popular franchise.